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BiologyUnder laboratory conditions it is an obligatory air breather (Ref. 34291), but under certain conditions lungfish in the wild may not be obligate air breathers and the use of aerial respiration may be a function of ecological as well as physiological factors (Ref. 58531). It inhabits river and lake fringes, swamps and floodplains (Ref. 28714). In Lake Victoria it is found in open lake and marginal swamps, in Lake Tanganyika basin only near rivers and deltas (Ref. 4967). Juveniles are found in the matted roots of papyrus (Ref. 34291). Protopterus aethiopicus is able to live in streams and swamps which are completely dry for long periods of the year (Ref. 45484). Withstands desiccation on floodplains by aestivating in cocoons until the next rains, breathing air by a small passage leading to the outside (Ref. 45484). It breeds during flood season (Ref. 28714). One or several females spawn in burrows which are dug and cleaned by the male, who later guards the eggs and the young. The principal diet of adults and sub-adults consists of mollusks, but small fishes and insects are also eaten in small quantities; young individuals less than 35 cm TL feed almost wholly on insects (Ref. 34291).